Saturday, October 20, 2012

Global struggle for abortion rights

Fight for women’s right to abortion!

The fight to defend women’s right to choose abortion is an important struggle for the working class worldwide. The new law in Uruguay is a small step forward in this global battle.

As the working class grows throughout the colonial and semi-colonial world, drawn into the world by the inexorable expansion of the tentacles of capitalist production and trade, battles for workers’ rights, women’s rights and the right to abortion have grown.

Since World War II, women in the U.S. have joined the workforce in ever greater numbers. This trend continues today, here and increasingly across the globe, boosting women’s self-confidence and expectations, and transforming attitudes of their male coworkers.

Out of these social changes, a movement of women who refused to accept second-class status emerged, demanding reproductive freedom alongside the right to equal pay and job opportunities. Their fight rose on the shoulders of the massive proletarian battle to overthrow Jim Crow segregation and the broad street protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam.

To the bosses, these gains are a threat, cutting into the profits they gain from women’s oppression. The struggle for women’s emancipation also runs counter to unrelenting efforts by the capitalists rulers to foist maximum burden for care of children and the elderly on the family, which always falls heaviest on women.

The victory codified in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision registered a deep-going shift in social attitudes. Since then, opponents of women’s rights have conducted an offensive to impose more and more legal restrictions on women’s access to abortion.

It is in this context that president Barack Obama in 2009 called for “common grounds” with opponents of women’s rights to “reduce the number of women seeking abortions.”

In 87 percent of U.S. counties there is no abortion provider available. Thirty-five states force women to undergo “counseling”—humiliating, anti-scientific badgering sessions—prior to having an abortion. And 10 states require women to get an ultrasound and be lectured about the result, including some that require an invasive vaginal procedure.

Many of these assaults—here and around the world—are conducted under religious cloak. The propertied rulers in 68 countries, containing more than a quarter of the world’s population, bar abortion completely or restrict it to instances ruled necessary to save a woman’s life.

The vast majority of these regimes are strongly influenced by relations with Islamic or Catholic church hierarchies, from the Middle East to Latin America.

But antiquated anti-women strictures stand more and more at odds with the attitudes and desires of women worldwide, regardless of their faith. In the U.S., for example, some 62 percent of Catholic women support a woman’s right to choose abortion, the same percentage as the population as a whole.

In Indonesia, activists in Samsara, an organization that campaigns for the right of women to safe abortions, report that their new hotline has received more than 1,000 calls since June, mostly from young, unmarried women.

Defending a woman’s right to abortion is of decisive importance to the working class. Without the right to decide when or whether to bear a child, women cannot participate as equals in economic, social and political life. And without the fight for women’s emancipation, the solidarity the working class needs to fight the bosses—and to wage a victorious revolutionary struggle to take political power our of their hands—is impossible.

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